Hello Kitty’s frog buddy sits with lonely diners, entices with adorable, delicious food and drinks.
It’s hard to say whether Sanrio’s Kero Kero Keroppi was ahead of his time, or just a little too late to really strike it big. Debuting in 1988, he’s too young to be part of Sanrio’s groundbreaking triumvirate of Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars Kiki and Lala. On the other hand, his popularity crested too soon to ride the wave of sophisticated marketing and precision promotions of the 21st century.
But Keroppi is getting a chance to shine now, a year ahead of the character’s 30th birthday. Following in the footsteps of fellow Sanrio pantheon members Gudetama, Pompompurin, and, of course, Hello Kitty, Keroppi now has his own cafe.
▼ We agree, this does look like it’s going to be a wonderful day!
Located in the city of Yokohama, about 30 minutes south of the Tokyo city center, the limited-time eatery is simply called the Kero Kero Keroppi Cafe, because when your celebrity character’s name is already that long, you don’t have a lot of room on the sign for extra embellishment. We stopped by on April 20, opening day, and stood in line with the other Keroppi fans to be part of the first seating.
Keroppi greets customers with a smile…or actually multiple smiles, since the cafe s packed with plushies and artwork of the adorable amphibian.
This is Keroppi’s first foray into the restaurant business, but the chefs shunned the easy option of simply offering a bunch of green food and drink. Looking over the menu, we had a difficult time choosing from among the many options that were lovingly detailed visual recreations of the character.
But on the bright side, we didn’t have to face our quandary alone. As is becoming common with character-themed cafes in Japan, there are Keroppi stuffed animals standing by to keep solo diners company by sitting at the table with them.
▼ Hmmm…what looks good to you, Keroppi?
Eventually, we decided to start off with a plate of curry for 1,280 yen (US$11.50).
In contrast to the plain name of the cafe itself, many of the dishes bear rather descriptive titles. This is technically “Keroppi’s Sunday Curry,” and depicts the Sanrio star (made of mashed potatoes, ham, and cheese) sitting on a lily pad (actually cabbage) and angling for some veggie “fish” swimming in curry representing his home of Donut Pond. Not only does it look great, the curry is suitably spicy and deliciously rich in flavor.
We weren’t initially planning on getting dessert, but Keroppi talked us into it.
▼ “Come on! You can make up for it with a light dinner and a good workout tomorrow.”
We’re glad he was as persuasive as he was, because it meant we got to enjoy the Keroppi’s Music Recital Hotcake Plate (1,320 yen), which comes with two fluffy pancakes sandwiching a sweet custard cream, plus chocolate, fruit, and music-themed cookies on the side.
And to wash it all down (plus further satisfy our sweet tooth), we tacked on a glass of Keroppi’s Happy Tapioca Matcha Milk (830 yen).
Between the milky green tea, marshmallows, chocolate, and boba tapioca balls, this is actually a dessert in itself, and a sweetly satisfying one at that.
Now happy and full, we discovered there was even a surprise waiting for us at the end of the meal, as customers receive a Keroppi pin to take home (while supplies last).
Really, the whole experience felt like a joyfully nostalgic trip back to childhood. However, just like there’s no clear-cut moment when you become an adult, so too is there no official ending date for the Kero Kero Keroppi Cafe. The management is clear about it being a limited-time affair, but just how long it’ll be in operation is an undisclosed, and perhaps undecided, secret.
As such, we recommend going to see Keroppi, and eat his likeness, as soon as possible.
Kero Kero Keroppi Cafe / けろけろけろっぴカフェ
Located inside Keikyu Department Store (Kamiooka Eki branch) / 京急百貨店（上大岡駅店）
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Konan-ku, Kamiooka Nishi 1-6-1, 4th floor
Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s impressed that Sanrio could make such a charming character even after giving him a name that essentially means “Croaky Croak Croak.”
[ Read in Japanese ]